There is so much ahead.

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There is so much ahead!  So much for us to look forward to.  It will only get better and better.  Isn’t that the promise?  From glory to glory, from strength to strength.  Fullness. Abundance. Glory. “For out of His fullness (abundance) we have received [all had a share & we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.”  John 1: 16 (AMP)

WOW.  I just want to open wide my mouth and receive it all.  

As I have been preparing to leave South Africa (this place I love so much it hurts), I have been looking back on my four and half years here.  The good, the bad, the ugly, the breakthroughs and the heartaches…it has all been, well, glorious.  Not because it was easy or fun, but because as I look back now I can see how He is the Faithful One who journeys with us to take us deeper and deeper and deeper again into his heart, his glory, his Kingdom, his story.  These have been some of the absolute hardest years of my life and yet some of the absolute best.  Although I have seen things happen I could only have dreamed of, I have also faced so many heavy trials and many dark days…and yet as I look back I can only count them all for joy.  Because HE WAS IN THEM.  The One who loves me and only desires the best for me.  The One who is so close and so good and brings it together in a beautiful masterpiece of his glory.  He was there.  He is always there.  Oh how I miss it so often in the daily.  

So that is why, although I have no idea of what my life will look like in a few weeks, I don’t feel afraid.  Because HE IS ALREADY THERE.  There is so much ahead!  As I started a new journal this week, I flipped through the blank pages and felt giddy with excitement.  His FULLNESS will be filling these pages.  What looks like an empty abyss in front of me is actually a glorious story that is being unfolded.  A story that he has dreamed up before creation and is now putting into place.  He is already there and is making me ready for all that he has planned.  There is nothing to fear and only everything to be excited about.  Anything can happen.  

ANYTHING. CAN. HAPPEN.  After announcing I would be leaving in May, I felt I was standing in front of a mountain that I had no idea how to pass through.   The ministry I had been entrusted with was blooming and fruit was abounding, but there was no one insight to take over when I left.  This ministry has been my baby and I have laid down my life to see it birthed and grow these four and half years.  But I knew that God had spoken it was time to let go.  So I just began walking up to this mountain with one sentence on repeat in my mind and prayers: “Anything can happen.”  Even when we can’t imagine a solution, anything can happen when we trust the One who made everything out of nothing.  Anything can happen.  I woke up every morning singing this over and over.  And I would repeat it again and again when people would ask me about the future of the ministry.  Its not that my faith was so huge…its just I was at the end of my strength, I had nothing left to muster and so my only option was to throw myself on His faithfulness and wait for Him to come through.  There was no plan B.   Doesn’t faith sometimes feel so foolish?  

But then after several months of clinging to this prayer, it happened.  He brought a couple to join our team who couldn’t be more perfect to take over my job.  As I met with them to hear their story, I saw how during those months of complete unknown and waiting on Him, he was orchestrating it all.  He was moving and speaking and preparing.  He was there through it all making it all possible.  Its just too good!

So I am stepping out into the darkness, the unknown with joy and expectancy because He who is faithful is already there waiting for me.  He knows it all.  Every detail.  And he fills it all with his fullness, his abundance, his glory.  So here we go.  There is so much ahead!

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thankful.

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i am so thankful for my life!

i have felt discouraged lately.  i have felt like i am not doing enough.  i am not being effective.  i am wasting my time.  i have felt dissatisfied.  i have felt offended towards the Father for not doing more in my life.  for not speaking to me more.  for making me wait and wait.  for asking me to lay some things down that i just want to hold on to.

 

BUT THEN…it hits me.  i could not be more blessed.

my life is glorious.  i am surrounded on a daily basis with the sweetest, most beautiful children.  i get to snuggle them.  to kiss their sweet heads.  i get to speak life over them when no one else will.  i get to spend my days on behalf of the broken, forgotten and far off.  i get to be a voice for the voiceless, a friend to the unloved.  i get to be surrounded by stunning africa leaders that call me sister.  i get to do life with them and follow Jesus with them.  i get to encounter the Father with them and see His power breakthrough before our eyes.

 

i am living my dreams.  right now.  and it is only going to get better!

i just feel i need to SHOUT IT OUT and DECLARE it tonight…

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i am thankful.

 

december 26th.

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::of the increase of his government and peace there is no end::  (isaiah 9:7)

its december 26th. christmas is over.  but the Light continues to dawn, to shine and break forth into hearts!  we can celebrate every single day because Jesus came to make is home with us, IN US.  never leaving, never forsaking.  the FULLNESS for eternity when we invite him in.

“There it was—the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines every person.” john 1:9

and He continues to come. every second, every hour, every day.

through Jesus coming to earth, living in perfection and dying as THE sacrifice, the kingdom that can not be shaken was established on this earth.  not a physical kingdom that can be taken down by the next powerful army.  but a kingdom that is in hearts. a kingdom that is eternal.  an UNSHAKABLE kingdom. a kingdom of light that breaks forth in the darkness, bringing love, peace, joy, hope, healing, redemption to lives.  a Kingdom that can not be stopped.

so i am celebrating TODAY!  i am celebrating that i have been found by Jesus.  that his light shines in my heart every day.  that he has made his home with me. ME.  and that he makes his home with anyone who will say “come!” He makes his home with the lowly, broken, messed up people. aren’t we all those things??  his life is for ALL.  yayyyyyy hallelujah!

HAPPY DAY EVERYONE!

celebrating Jesus!

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It really is about Jesus.

It has been such a joy to celebrate him this season.  In the midst of all the festivities, cookies, decorations and carols, I am daily sitting with people in absolutely desperate situations, staring into the eyes of people who are deep in the pits of despair.  And I have realized that Christmas really is about Jesus.  The beautiful Morning Star bursting forth into the darkness.  The Prince of Peace coming to rescue the world out of pain and brokenness.  And in the midst of learning about the precious little ones taken up to heaven last week, it only makes my heart cry out in thankfulness that Jesus came for us.  To redeem the world and to bring us near to the Father.  So that we would not have to live like orphans, but instead be united with the God of Love.  

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, 
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth. 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining. 
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! 
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another, 
His law is love and His gospel is peace. 
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. 
And in his name all oppression shall cease. 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
With all our hearts we praise His holy name. 
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, 
His power and glory ever more proclaim! 
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

May we be filled with peace and love in this season.  And may we turn our eyes to Jesus and worship him!

this is christmas.

He came for us.

He left perfection, glory, heavenly home…for us.

He moved heaven and earth…for me.

I have been overwhelmed in this Christmas season by the goodness of God.  My heart has overflowed in thankfulness and love because of Jesus.  born as a babe, he came into this world to rescue us.  for all of us who live in deep darkness, gloom, despair…light dawned.  oh how His light has filled my life.  that glorious Prince of Peace (day in and day out) wrecks my life with his goodness. (Isaiah 9)

One thing has been striking me above all else: that they called him Emmanuel (God with us).  GOD WITH US.  He came to be with us.  He came TO us.

“They spread the tables for their gods.  But the Christian God does it the other way around, He spreads the table for His children.  In the other religions the people always seek God, and in the Christian faith, God seeks man.” (from a movie called “Father of Lights”)

He seeks us.  We run, we reject him, we hide…but he cares not.  Because His love is unfailing.

Today I spent time with a girl that the Father longs to call daughter.  She is oh so broken.  She chooses alcohol, drugs, men, parties…over and over and over.  She is 19 and a mother of 2.  I met her my first time in Masi in 2007 when she was just a young girl.  Since then the Lord continues to bring her in my path.  Always in her lowest moments it seems.  Today I was unexpectedly at a maternity hospital I have never been before an hour away from Masi.  As I sat waiting for a friend in the lobby, I looked up to see this girl.  Although I am in Masi everyday, its been months since I have seen her.  And now I see her here.  She begins to tell me what she has been through.  Getting pregnant and now unexpectedly giving birth 3 months early.  She takes me to see the baby.  I have never seen a baby so small.  As I pray over her little boy, she sits weeping.  She is alone.  Her mother has not been to the hospital.  Nor has her friends or her boyfriend.  And yet she is not alone. She is seen by the One who longs for her to know His unfailing love and perfect peace.  He has not forgotten her.  He is after her.  I would have given up on her SO long ago.  It is so hard to continue pursuing someone who keeps running away.  But He continues to come to her, over and over again.  He came to her today.  He sent me to her today.  She has done nothing to earn His love, and yet he comes to rescue her out of darkness and pain.

We did NOTHING to earn His love, and yet He came to rescue us out of darkness and pain.

He came for us.

He seeks the lonely and far off.  The broken and completely messed up.

WHY?  Oh my limited heart can not comprehend it.  But it fills me with such thankfulness.

This is christmas.  Remembering the babe that was born that would rescue the world.  Celebrating the extravagant goodness of a God that sacrifices everything to make dark, broken, messed up people His children forever.  It is a season to slow down our busy schedules and put down our huge to-do lists and simply bask in the wonder of His love.  To thank him. and thank him again.  A season to receive His heart for this broken world and to love our neighbors well, especially the lonely, unloved ones in our lives.  Lets be a people that wait in eager expectancy for Christmas…the day we celebrate the greatest promise fulfilled that ever was and ever will be…JESUS.

He came for us…so lets come to Him. and adore Him.

merry christmas!

silusapho lukaThixo.

silusapho lukaThixo.  we are the family of God.

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5 years ago a sweet little 7 year old boy grabbed a hold of my hand on my first day in masi, and he did not let go for the 4 weeks I visited.  His yard was our team’s meeting and regrouping place.  everyday he would take my hand and would not let go until I got in the car to leave for the day.  Why did he choose me out of all the people on our team?  I don’t think he chose me.  I think God had orchestrated it before the beginning of time.  God knew that our hearts would be knitted together.  He knew how much I would love this little boy and how much he would love me.

Since 2007 I have stayed connected to this boy.  Through 6 trips to Cape Town and back, 3 years of being separated by thousands of miles of ocean, his mother dying, becoming an orphan and him being sent away for a time, we stayed connected.  Why?  Because of the Father who holds everything together in his hands.

My heart swells with pride because of this boy.  I could go on and on and on and on about how special he is.  I knew it the first day I met him.  He is incredibly bright and speaks brilliant english, although most kids at his school do not.  He has a tender heart.  He is hilarious and has moves that could rival michael jackson.  The other day he busted out these moves in the middle of a store in the mall while wearing a too-small neon cap that he found.  He is just himself and he doesn’t care what others think.  I love that.  And this boy has a heart for God.  He helps his friend with hours of homework just so his friend will read him stories from his storybook bible.  He tells me stories of being in his room crying because of the pain of being an orphan until Jesus comes to him and tells him that he is not alone and fills him with peace.  He has experienced his Father God and shares Him with his classmates.  Oh the plans the Lord has for this boy are incredible.  I can not wait to see them unfold!

I have always said that I would adopt him today if I could.  That is how much I love this boy.  Every time I spend time with him, I thank God that he chose my hand out of all the others.  I thank God that he knit our hearts together.

The family of God is so beautiful.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families…”  Psalm 68:5

He chooses us to be in His glorious family.  He gives us hearts filled with love for one another.  He takes the lonely and the far off, the oppressed and orphaned, the least and the downcast, and he makes them HIS children.  He does not leave us alone but surrounds us in his love and favor.  HE CHOOSES US.  And he gives us spiritual brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and children. to love and be loved by.  OH it is so good to be in the family of God.  It is so beautiful and I am thankful.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:4-5

a new song…


He is a God of new beginnings.  His mercies are new every morning.  The dead ends and the rock bottoms of life are never the end.  He makes filthy, useless ashes into breathtaking beauty.

He has done it for me.  OH how he has done it for me.  So many times.  But just this morning, I was telling a friend of my favorite tale of his goodness and redemption from my life…

In 2004, in a moment, my life went completely crashing to the ground.  My perfect, carefree life was left in an ash heap.  My daddy had taken his own life.  MY DADDY.  the man who loved me so well my whole life.  The one I loved to dance around and be silly with.  The one who coached all my sports teams and helped me choreograph my musical tryout numbers.  The daddy who fostered such security in my heart because of how extravagantly he affirmed me. My daddy was now gone.  And I was left broken into pieces.
 
Thank God this is not the end of the story.
 
 The Rescuer of my soul met me in that pit of despair, lifting me out and placing me in a place of abundance.  I love that my life is not marked by the painful wounds or awful scars of my dad’s death, but that I have been healed COMPLETELY.  And even better, He did not just stop at restoring me to my original state…He has brought me to a place that far exceeds anything I ever knew before my dad’s death.  ABUNDANCE.  beautiful abundance.  that is the place he restores us to.  

OH this is too good to be true!  But it is.  and this is why I spend my days reaching out to the broken and hurting.  To those who have no hope. To those who have lived their entire lives in the pits of despair.  To the absolute least of these. It is because of the love of an extravagantly good Father who longs to redeem the lives of his children and give them a new song.

As I returned back home to South Africa this past week, I sat with one of my favorites here.  A boy who has known tragedy, pain and rejection.  A boy who has grown up without family and who knows life on the streets too well.  But this is a boy who is being restored by His Father day by day.  This is a boy who NOW knows what it means to be loved extravagantly and to belong to God’s family.  He knows his life is worth everything to the One who has loved him from the beginning of time.  He told me how the same principal who kicked him out of school for doing drugs several years ago called him into his office last week to praise him for being such a wonderful example to his classmates.  He also asked him to join the class president and vice president in addressing the entire school body to encourage and spur them on.  REDEMPTION.  its a beautiful thing!

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see what he has done and be amazed.  They will put their trust in the Lord.  Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord…” Psalm 40:1-4

you can find me over here now.

i will be posting my blog HERE now!  i have decided to move sites to make keeping up with my journey in south africa a bit easier!  you can check at the top of this page to find several different tabs, where you can do things such as, browse pictures, find giving info, or read more about the Vulnerable Children program.

thank you to everyone who is joining me on this journey.  its a glorious one indeed!

for old blog posts you can visit: www.whitneyelisecaldwell.blogspot.com